A burgeoning coffee-shop culture is fuelling a robust home market for coffee in Kenya, at a time when commodity prices are low around the world. Ivor Bennett reports
This is Sankei Kenga hard at work. He has an office, but often he's happier here. Chilling out with free wi-fi while he pursues his entrepreneurial projects - in the local coffee shop. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ENTREPRENEUR, SANKEI KENGA, SAYING: "Sometimes when you're working and you're trying to work out some creative stuff, being in an environment where there is not a lot of interaction kind of bores you." Coffee prices are down on world markets. And while Kenya ships out around one million bags per year, the locals drink mostly reimported coffee. But Sankei and a growing middle class are perking up local demand. Travel also giving a Kenyans a discerning nose for the best of what's back home. Eat Out Kenya manager Michelle Slater. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MANAGER AT EAT OUT KENYA, MICHELLE SLATER, SAYING: "So they have been exposed to some of the best coffee shops around, so they have an awareness of these different offerings that they can get. So when they come home and in Kenya we actually make coffee, we grow coffee, expectations have grown, they've raised." The flip side of that coin, though: locals facing more and more competition from the big multinational chains. Eat Out CEO Mikul Shah. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MIKUL SHAH, CEO OF EAT OUT KENYA SAYING: "We've seen a change from say, what you would call mom and pops shops where family run small restaurants moving towards huge international franchises and big brands coming in from the rest of the world." A bitterer taste has been poor weather and falling revenues. Those forcing some smaller growers to close. Here in Nairobi though, coffee shop culture is on the rise. Many hope it could be the start of a long romance.